Thursday, June 7, 2012

Monday, June 4, 2012

Of Bottles and Rattles

Libby Lee has a couple of pairs of things that are what might be called daddy pacifiers:

  1. Two bottles
  2. Two rattles
The first is probably kind of hard for any parent to believe, but yes -- Libby Lee has two bottles. She used to only have one, in fact. To be accurate, she's actually got probably closer to eight bottles, but I never use those. I only use her two Avent bottles. Not because they're so great or anything, but for reasoning bordering pretty clearly on superstition. The simple fact is that the Avent bottle worked first. And exactly one time early on, the Medela bottle (the one I have eight of) did not work. She balked. 
I never tried again.
I just made sure I had the Avent bottle, and if it got left at Mamaw and Papaw's, I went and GOT it. Eventually I went and bought a second one to try to avoid another head-on collision with my improbable superstition. Now I'm sort of constantly aware of whether or not both Avent bottles are in known locations. Usually they are not. Usually, one is missing. And as soon as I stumble upon it, the other one sneaks away.

Similarly, Libby Lee has two rattles. Two. A cool red one that reminds me of Russian nesting dolls and sounds like it's full of bb's, and a beautiful wooden one made by a friend which I suspect of containing 2-4 pennies. They are very different from one another but I prefer for some reason that they both be on hand at all times.

They rarely are.

The ideal is that they're kept near the crib and I hand them to Libby Lee with some small cheerful pomp after I find her awake after each nap. I like this because she looks at the rattle and then looks at me as if I'm presenting her with the Hope Diamond. Who knew that babies actually liked rattling rattles? I didn't. This baby sure does. Each time, she'll put down whatever bauble she's got and slowly close her fist around it, look at me with wonder and begin to shake it up and down with simple delight, as if she's
never seen it before, never known such fulfillment. Lately she's learned that she can drum it across the spindles of the crib, like the most cheerful inmate of the happiest solitary confinement block in baby prison history.

I want BOTH of each of these around. They give me some comfort that's probably not too hard to understand if I think about it. It's a kind of continuity, a regularity that lets me bask in the ultimate illusion of parenthood: that my baby isn't growing up. 

Because she is, damn it, she is.

I don't know why I don't want her to grow up. Babies require a lot of care, obviously. Wouldn't it be easier if she could walk and feed herself and talk and get dressed? I will find out before too much longer. But I never dreamed I'd love doing everything for her, taking care of her like this. And I still remember what I thought in the hospital when they put those hospital ID bracelets on her and on us. I thought: "You're with us now." And we will do everything -- because we're hard-wired to do so -- to keep you safe and fill you with a sense of security ... and by extension, with joy. Or is it the other way around? I don't know. I feel so secure knowing that I'm her father. It's the best job I could ever think of. I don't mean being "a parent," though that may be true. I mean being her dad.

And that means carrying her and feeding her and talking to her and dressing her. As she gets older, I'll gradually be relieved of these tasks, these simple services. Instead, I'll be called upon for murkier responsibilities, like setting an example of how to behave or ... i don't even know, but it scares me. I don't know if I'm qualified or if I'll ever be smart enough or grown up enough myself. I hope I can be a good dad to this girl as she keeps growing. If she must. I hope I can keep having two rattles and two bottles... or two of whatever turns out to have a similar magic.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Aspirations with a Stranger's Unlocked Jeep

Mirror Wall (El Rancho Tapatio)

Popsicle Diptic

Mother/Child Reunion Diptic (8 mos.)

High Chairin' with Mamaw Triptych

Truman Capote Diptic